Sita Sings the Blues Response

I really enjoyed watching this film. I felt that the multiple styles of both animation and storytelling worked well together to illustrate both the story of Sita and of the artist. I can see where some controversy can arise from cultural insensitivity, but I’m not too familiar with Hindu culture and feel I can’t write too much on that, so I’m going to concentrate mostly on the artistic value of the movie.

I feel some of the strongest sequences were the narration ones where three shadow puppets provided back story and narration in a very colloquial and often humorous way. It reminded me of the scenes from Disney’s Hercules with the muses. However, in terms of story, the laid back tone of these scenes didn’t make the story increasingly compelling as the movie went on, rather, it remained at the same level the entire movie. It was still interesting, but unlike most movies we’re used to watching, there wasn’t really a strong plot structure (like the three act structure).

The musical sequences were also well done, the art was well done and very strongly stylized. I enjoyed the use of 20’s blues songs with the very new pop style of these scenes. It took some time to get used to the style, but after I did they got more enjoyable. When I first watch an animation with a heavy style, I feel like I’m concentrating more on the art than anything else. I felt the same way watching the movie Book of Life that came out last year.

The sequences with a more traditional art style actually sometimes reminded me of Monty Python animated sequences, though I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe the two dimensional and minimal movement of the figures.

Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the scenes with Nina, but that’s mainly because I never liked the style that combines real photographic elements with animated ones. It always looks a little off to me and feels uncomfortable. However, these were also the scenes with the story that interested me most. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more interested in relationship drama, or if it’s because these were the least frequent scenes that only gave us just enough information to move on.

Overall, I enjoyed watching this movie and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in animation, new media, or indie movies.

The Ecstacy of Remix/Everything is a Remix Response

I agree with the ideas presented in both pieces, that everything is a remix in one way or another. A conversation I often had with my old roommate, who’s a studio art major back in NYC, was how she was sick of people talking about and making pieces revolving around the idea that “there are no new ideas, everything is just a copy of a copy”. While she didn’t agree with this sentiment, these pieces suggest that yes, everything is in a sense, a copy of a copy, but that’s not necessarily  a bad thing, especially considering that there weren’t ever completely original ideas to start with. Reading Lethem’s article was interesting, but I felt Ferguson’s video series was much more effective at driving the point home, mainly because he was able to play clips as examples. As someone who wants to be a producer in the future, the idea that everything is a form of remix is kind of a relief. There’s a lot of pressure on artists to make something new, original, edgy, etc., etc., when what’s really important is to make something good. This weird emphasis on new sometimes drives artists to try to hard to be new and original, and make something overly dark, filled with cheap shock factor, and in general concentrate on being different rather than good.

I think copyright laws can be a little ridiculous sometimes. Just last semester, I was working at a producing internship and was looking up public domain songs. I realized I recognized most of them from elementary school choir class. This probably meant that songs were chosen not because they were classic choir songs, or good for kids to sing, rather, they were free to use. It’s a little ridiculous- would Katy Perry sue a bunch of fifth graders for singing Firework? Hopefully not.

Ferguson mentioned the Grey Album, Danger Mouse’s remix album of Jay Z and The Beatles, and I was curious so I tried listening to it. I thought the result was something unlike either of the original albums. It seems silly for the Beatles’ record company to sue, because I doubt anyone would listen to or buy The Grey Album if they wanted to listen to the Beatles. If anything, it introduces more people to The Beatles music and could encourage more sales of the original. Strangely enough, if my working knowledge of music copyright is correct, if Danger Mouse had created a cover mash up album, much like Glee does in most episodes, it would’ve been perfectly legal.

Side note: the phrase “you wouldn’t steal a handbag” always reminds me of this clip from the show The IT Crowd (A British comedy which has been had two attempted remakes in the US so far) :

Brad and Angelina in Shanghai – Kelsey, Dani, Yu

brad & angelina in Shanghai2

 

Yu Zhou’s part:

Panel 1: Brad and Angelina on plane

In this panel, Brad and Angelina travelled around the world to find a new place to adopt something cute. They family finally decided to go to Shanghai, China.

I actually made two versions of the first panel. The first one has a very strong problem that it the dialogue does not flow well: there are pieces of words all over the place. Readers can not understand it according to some instinctive order. Kelsey remind me of this very important point so I made the second version, which reduced some words and made it easier to read from left to right. This time, I also made some comic effects on the backgrounds of mini panels and on the characters. (though the effect on the character might be hard to see because the characters are too little) Because of there are two mini panels, there are so many layers to deal with that folders really helped a lot. And I am very happy that I managed to make and adjust my own speaking bubbles.

 

Panel 2: Arriving in Shanghai, china

This panel describes the family’s arrival in Shanghai. I also made two version of this panel. The first version did not see to be in comic story with the first panel. It looks very realistic. Also, the first version uses a picture of the high buildings in pudong from the view of the Bund. For the second version I chose a picture of the night view of the Bund to add more views of Shanghai into the comic(as we see in the first panel there’s the Pudong side, the third panel has the Yu Garden). In the second version I deleted the characters and some words to make it simpler and easier to read. To stay in line with the whole comic story, the same effect of the background is applied(thanks to Kelsey who taught us this!). We used filters and layers modes to to this.

 

Danielle Walsh:

I worked on the two middle panels which feature Brad, Angelina and their family sightseeing in Shanghai. The first panel depicts the family at Yu Garden looking out. I inserted a small panel within this one to zoom in on the family. My aim was to make it easier for the reader to see who the speech bubbles were coming from. The second panel features the monkey that they end up adopting and another inserted panel to show the reactions of Brad and Angelina. By doing this, I felt it was unnecessary to add in speech for the characters and the scene could be easily interpreted.

 

When I first began creating the comic, my images were very life-like and did not really have a “comic feel” to them. However, after meeting with the group again, and getting some awesome tips from Kelsey on how to make the images appear more cartoon-like, I was much more satisfied with the work. This time working with photoshop was definitely easier and I think I am beginning to become familiar with the software.

 

Kelsey Stephanides:

 

For this comic, we chose to choose a set amount of panels to divide up the work evenly. Before leaving for break, we picked a basic storyline, amount of panels, what would happen in each and who would have which panels. We came up with the story of Brad and Angelina going to China and adopting a monkey.

 

My contribution was the last two panels, where Brangelina adopts the monkey, and then a final sort of epilogue family photo. I decided to go in a very retro comic-like direction with my panels, and I found an online tutorial on how to recreate an effect similar to old comic style coloring. The first panel I used both a comic effect filter and effect lines, though I had trouble arranging the speech bubbles to both look good and flow coherently. The second was a family portrait, in which I edited a red carpet photo and named the monkey Monika.

Understanding Comics Response

I really enjoyed this weeks reading. I found it interesting how McCloud really analyzed each aspect of comics in depth, even the ones I often take for granted- like the spacing between the panels themselves. It really made me think about comics I’ve read and think about breaking down each aspect- artistically and psychologically. He goes into detail with both explanations and examples, both from previous art and through his comic himself. I thought his examples were particularly helpful in explaining his points- for example, when he changes the style in which he draws “himself” to show how realistic styles can take the reader out of the comic.

Something I found particularly interesting was how he said that the simplified style helps the reader self project themselves onto the character. What I thought was just the artist’s personal style actually plays a key role in immersing the reader in the work. I’ve noticed this in debates on comic character’s race- when a character is simple enough it’s easy for someone to assume they are the character is their race. This lead to the simplified style of characters and the detailed backgrounds. It’s not something I’ve paid particular attention to, but looking back on the comics I’ve read I notice the same pattern. I also took a lot of comic effects for granted, when a lot of them were introduced by Jack Kirby or other prominent comic artists.

I thought that when he explained how one could master writing or art and not comics, because they are not just a combination of the two, but rather an art all their own. I think his book really helps to establish comics as such and to dispel other popular stigma against comics.

On the Rights of Molotov Man Response

I do not yet know exactly where I stand on the issue of copyrights when it comes to adaptations, remixes, and the like. While reading this, I found myself both agreeing and disagreeing with both of the sides presented. On one hand, there is a multitude of art that is inspired or created from another piece of art. These can easily evolve and grow into their own, and inspire even more new pieces. On the other hand, this takes away ownership of the original piece to the original artist. In the case of the Molotov Man, it seems that Susan, the original photographer, had her photo stolen from her in several different ways. Some, to create new art, and others, to sell products or advertise or stand for something different than the original intentions. In many of these cases, it seems she is not given credit. In fact, the painter, Joy, wasn’t even aware of the original source of the photograph when she first found it.

I feel that to support remixes, recreations, etc., one must believe that art belongs to the public, rather than a sole artist. However, economically, if an artist doesn’t have ownership over their work, they can’t sustain themselves on art alone. The economic problem likely doesn’t bother bigger artists, but for smaller, independent artists, it can steer them away from art as a career. It also brings to issue on where the line is drawn between a recreation of art, and the production of a new piece of art based on a previous one. Susan believed some of the recreations took away the context of the original, and changed the meaning. Does changing the meaning make it a new piece of art? Or does it detract from the original? If a recreation gets more attention than the original, is it better?

I feel like the complexity of copyright laws reflect the grey area that is creative reproduction of art. There is a legal way to reproduce art, and an illegal way. However, even then, sometimes producers will choose to risk a lawsuit rather than to go about the legal ways to include someone else’s work in their own. This ongoing, open ended debate, seems to hurt artists either way, one in that an artist can lose credit for their work, and another, in that artists whose focus is remixes don’t get the credit they deserve, or they face endless legal troubles.

 

“The Machine Stops” Reflection

I enjoyed reading “The Machine Stops” this week. I liked how the main character,

Vashti, seemed like both a character the reader isn’t supposed to like (at least immediately) and

the most relatable character in the story. She seems a bit irritable, lazy, and heartless by our

standards, within the world of the story she is also practical, educated and a caring mother.

Though I’d like to believe I’d be more like Kuno, a rebellious, free thinker, if raised in the world

of the story, I’d likely be more hesitant, more complacent, and more like Vashti.

I also noticed how some parallels can be drawn between the Machine and today’s digital

technology. For example, no one knows how to operate the Machine, and today, almost everyone

owns a smartphone, but a much smaller number of people fully understand how it actually

works. The way people passively accept the Machine’s wills can be compared to a lot of things.

Almost anything could be snuck into a “Terms and Conditions” agreement and people would

accept it immediately without even knowing (myself included).

One thing I found particularly interesting was how the Machine became a sort of religion

for many people. A world that abolished religion for technology ended up circling around and

worshipping the technology as religion. I think this comments on both dependency on

technology, in that people became so reliant on the Machine it becomes a superior being, and the

human creation of religion, in that it suggests that other religions are created in a similar way, as

a manmade creation that rose above.

If this was longer I think I would still enjoy reading it. I like stories that set up a complex

new world with unique rules and standards, which I believe this story does well. However, since

it is a short story, it ends nearly after it finishes establishing it. It seems like the type of world

that would make a good setting for a successful dystopian future novel series today, along with

an accompanying movie adaptation, with someone like Chris Pine as Kuno.